Ronnie O'Sullivan has branded his form this season as "abysmal" following a 4-2 victory over Robin Hull in the opening match of the 2016 Champion of Champions on Monday.
After withdrawing from last year's tournament, 'The Rocket marked' his return to the popular invitational with a narrow win against February's Snooker Shoot-Out winner - making breaks of 88, 101 and 73 along the way.
O'Sullivan arrives in Coventry somewhat lacking match sharpness having chosen not to compete at last week's inaugural China Championship, but insists that he made the right decision by not travelling given his current form, that has brought just one progression beyond the Last 16 this term - reaching the final of the European Masters.
"To be fair, my season's been pretty abysmal," he admitted. "Since February last year, other than Romania, the furthest I've gone is the Last 16.
"Even if I had gone to China, I'd have probably lost in the First Round with the way things were going."
Despite making breaks of 88 and 101, the two-time winner looked rusty and survived a scare after being pegged back to 2-2 by Hull - having a further run of 73 to cross the finish line.
He chuckled as he admitted to thinking: "I've got to pay the mortgage, I've got to pay the school fees, I've got to sort my life out!"
Nevertheless, the Rocket, who faces either Martin Gould or Mark Davis in Monday's Group 3 Final, knows he will be in for a tough match but is optimistic that some good form is not too far away should he continue to persist.
"I've never really looked at draws. They're all top players and I just have to try and be on my game," he said. "If I am then I'm sure I'll give them a good game.
"I've just got to keep trying as hard as I can and hopefully get a result somewhere along the line."